OnePlus Nord 3 Review: A well-balanced midranger, Finally!
Hello everyone, Pratima here! So the OnePlus Nord 3 is finally here! I’ve been using it for just over a week now! And I believe this is one of the most well-balanced mid-range phones you can get at the moment!
In India, the price starts at INR 33,999 or some 450 euros for the base 8/128GB variant. While the pricing in the Nepalese market starts at NPR 69,999 price tag which is more than double the Indian pricing. And although this price segment is full of some good phones like the Galaxy A54, Poco F5, and the Moto Edge 40, all of them compromise in one way or the other.
But with the Nord 3, OnePlus has nailed it at almost everything! There are some aspects of the camera that OnePlus needs to fix with an update or two, but other than that, it’s a stellar package overall! Before heading to the review, let’s have a quick look at the specifications first.
OnePlus Nord 3 Specifications:
- Display: 6.74-inch AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate, 450 ppi, Gorilla Glass 5
- Resolution: 1.5K (2772 x 1240 pixels)
- Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 9000 5G (4nm)
- Memory: 8/16GB LPDDR5X RAM, 128/256GB UFS 3.1 storage (non-expandable)
- OS: OxygenOS 13.1 based on Android 13
- Rear Cameras: Triple (with LED flash)
- 50MP f/1.8 Sony IMX890 primary sensor, OIS
- 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide, 112° FoV
- 2MP f/2.4 macro (4cm focus)
- Front Camera: 16MP, f/2.4 sensor (hole-punch)
- Battery: 5000mAh, 80W charging
- Security: In-display fingerprint sensor
- Connectivity: WiFi 6, 5G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, Dual SIM
Okay, the first thing that I really like about this phone is how simple its design is! I have it in this matte black color option and it looks plain yet elegant. You can also go with the Misty Green variant — which has a glossy back — but is equally good-looking too! Here, you get a Gorilla Glass 5 protection at the back while its display gets a Dragontrail glass.
OnePlus has also included an official IP54 dust and splash resistance for the first time in the Nord lineup. The IP54 rating basically means it can protect the phone from water splashes from any direction for around 5-10 minutes, and this has definitely come in handy for me during this monsoon season!
Likewise, I like these flat frames with subtle curves on the back which offer a nice grip. But more importantly, I like the overall heft of this phone! In factit has a much better hands-on feel than the more expensive OnePlus 11R.
The weight here is also evenly distributed, so I had no problems using it with one hand for long minutes. The power button is also easily reachable with the thumb, although I would have liked it more if this alert slider was located a bit lower.
I am also surprised to see an IR blaster on a OnePlus phone, which means you can use the Nord 3 as a remote controller too! Upfront, the bezels — as you can see — are quite minimal and uniform. In fact, they are on par with something like the S23 Ultra!
Plus, you also don’t get a curved display like we saw on the OnePlus 11R, which you know I am not a big fan of. This one here is a flat panel, so I didn’t have any accidental touches when typing and playing games.
Talking about the core quality of the display, it’s quite good! Not “flagship-level” good, but this AMOLED screen has everything from a 120Hz refresh rate to a higher pixel density, 10-bit colors, and a fast touch sampling rate!
I am using the phone in the default “Vivid” mode which produces a slightly punchy color output, but yeah you can also go with other modes and even change the color temperature with a slider! And this is also an HDR-certified display, and on my test, I had no problems watching HDR content on OTT platforms like Netflix and Prime Video.
What about the Refresh Rate and Brightness?
Likewise, interacting with this screen has been an absolute treat! The touch is quite responsive, the vibration feedback is probably the best in this segment, and there are no weird stutters in the UI too.
But I would suggest you use the phone in “High refresh rate” mode as that one’s more optimized. The UI and most of the apps always blast at 120Hz here, Chrome runs at 90Hz, and videos at 60Hz. Although it never hit the advertised 40Hz refresh rate in any of my tests.
I also found the brightness of this display to be plenty reliable. OnePlus says it can reach up to 1,450 nits at max, but that’s only while watching HDR videos. Whereas in SDR content — with auto-brightness mode on — it can still reach an impressive 1,100 nits and I found it to be bright enough to look at the screen in direct sunlight.
On the opposite end, the OnePlus Nord 3’s minimum brightness is also quite low while its auto-brightness sensor works perfectly fine. The in-display fingerprint sensor here is pretty fast as well. So overall, you will love the display experience on this phone.
Awesome Dual Speakers
The stereo speakers on the OnePlus Nord 3 are also excellent for the price! It has Dolby Atmos support and the audio here can get really loud with good treble. The vocals sound clear and there is some hint of the bass as well!
But the biggest improvement the OnePlus Nord 3 has got is in the performance aspect! Here You get a much more powerful Dimensity 9000 chipset this time, along with LPDDR5X RAM and UFS 3.1 storage. This means — compared to last-gen Nord 2 and 2T — the performance jump here is quite huge. Both in terms of CPU and GPU.
As a result, everything here feels fast and smooth, multitasking is excellent, and it almost feels like you are using a flagship phone!
That being said, you can get faster phones like the iQOO Neo 7 Pro with Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip at a similar price bracket. But what OnePlus offers is a much cleaner and easy-to-use UI experience with no bloatware apps, and you will just love using this phone.
OnePlus is also promising 3 generations of OS and 4 years of security patches on this thing, so that’s quite good as well.
Now, coming back to the performance, the dimensity 9000 chipset here can get slightly hotter, but it doesn’t throttle the performance nor it has any kind of overheating issue! But yes, if you are using mobile data and doing some high-CPU usage tasks, it does get a bit warmer than other phones like say the Galaxy A54!
Anyway, talking about gaming, you do have an option of 90fps in PUBG mobile and the gameplay is quite enjoyable. It doesn’t reach 90fps but hovers at around 82fps, and I found this issue with almost every game I tested!
For instance, Genshin Impact at 30 fps mode only reaches 27 fps on average, while COD and Asphalt 9 are capped at 55 fps! But this should get optimised with an update so I’m not worried all that much.
Likewise, high refresh rate games like Injustice 2 and Mech Arena cannot be played at a smooth 120 fps and runs at 30 and 60 fps respectively. That being said, all of these games have no lags and achieve almost 100% fps stability!
Ok, let’s get into the camera! And this is one area I feel like Oneplus still has a lot of work to do to improve the Nord 3’s overall camera prowess! It features the same Sony IMX890 sensor as the more expensive OnePlus 11R and OnePlus 11, but I found it to be lacking in terms of overall consistency.
Most of the photos I clicked from the Nord 3 are a bit more vibrant, which kinda works in OnePlus’ favor sometimes, but when I am clicking photos of greenery — for example — it looks quite unnatural.
Portraits are also hit-or-miss. Sometimes it produces good-looking shots with nice background separation and focus, but sometimes it makes the skin a bit dark and contrasty!
The lowlight images, on the other hand, are quite nice. Although it’s a bit less sharp and noisier than the 11R, most of the time, I am getting pleasing output. Especially while turning on the Night Mode.
However, I am extremely disappointed to see a very average ultra-wide camera here! Just look at this ultra-wide nighttime shot I took, it’s just so bad in so many ways! And even under good lighting conditions, the results I am getting are quite average!
Selfies come out nice most of the time, but it does tend to turn the subject’s skin soft and pinkish in some situation. So yeah — again — I think some form of consistency is definitely lacking here.
OnePlus is also not offering anything extraordinary in terms of videography. Yeah, it can record up to 4K 60 fps from the primary camera, but Oneplus is only offering stabilization in 1080P 30 and 60fps videos but not in 4K for some reason! And not just that, the overall quality is subpar too! It’s a bit darker and there’s some oversharping going on here!
The Ultra-wide videos are also substandard as it has very less details, no autofocus, and are capped at 1080P 30fps. Plus, Oneplus also doesn’t let you switch between the lenses while recording the video!
Lastly, the battery life I am getting on the OnePlus Nord 3 is decent! It’s nothing extra-ordinary like the S23 Ultra and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, but it should last you for an entire day if you are not a heavy user! And even if you are, you can quickly charge the phone with its 80W adapter in about 35 minutes.
OnePlus Nord 3 Review: Conclusion
Ok, let’s conclude this video! Like I said at the beginning, I think the OnePlus Nord 3 has positioned itself quite well by offering balanced specs.
The only aspect I find this phone could do better is of course the cameras! But I expect the company to roll out a few updates to optimize it in the coming days. Just like they did with the 11R. But the Nepalese pricing is at a blatantly higher side. After all, the phone costs INR 33,999 in India and it is priced more than doubled here in Nepal at NPR 69,999 for the 8/128GB trim.
But other than that, it manages to impress me with everything else. I really like its design, the multimedia experience is superb, and you get a flagship-like user experience with fast performance, nice haptics, and up to Android 16 OS update! So overall, OnePlus Nord 3 is somewhere at the top of my ranking in the best midrange phones for 2023!
OnePlus Nord 3 Review: Pros and Cons
- Superb Performance from Dimensity 9000
- Decent AMOLED panel and Main Camera
- Fantastic Dual Stereo Speakers
- 80W Charger in the Box
- Average Ultrawide Camera
- No Stabilization in 4K videos
- Overpriced in Nepal